Itiao Mataiapo, Andre Tapena (left) receives a donation from the Aitutaki Rainforest Club chairman, Junior Nicholls. SUPPLIED/22032101
In a show of solidarity, the Aitutaki Rainforest Men’s Club fishermen gathered last week to pay tribute to the two missing Rarotonga fishermen Toru Ariki Miria and Tekou Enua Tipene.
Chairman of the Rainforest Men’s Club, Junior Nicholls says, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the missing men.
“Not only were they fathers and members of families,
they were also fishing colleagues with a common interest to support loved ones and
their families especially during these times of struggle and challenges.
“These men were also part of our Aitutaki community,
therefore their loss was felt by all of us.”
Nicholls expressed the importance of ensuring good
planning, preparation and communication when out fishing, and that “no matter
where you are, the risks are all the same”.
In 2020, a record
number of 155 people participated and received boat master certificates
Last year, fishermen on Aitutaki participated in the Boat
Masters Training Course sponsored by the Cook Islands Government and just last
week, the Rainforest Club fishermen received fishing lines granted through the
Ministry of Marine Resources Small Grants Funding Scheme, as well as the
allocation of lifejackets to each boat owner through the generosity of the New Zealand
These programs are designed to encourage, educate and
upskill people on all aspects of safety while at sea, including leisure
Although people often take matters for granted when
fishing, one can never underestimate the power of mother nature when it comes
to the sea which is why we place a greater emphasis on safety and a huge
respect for the elements, said Nicholls.
“Te akaroa, we
understand these were experienced fishermen and we may never know what happened
but we can certainly learn from this to prevent this happening to others in
future,” he added.
Donations were collected at the club’s Wednesday night
gathering and handed to Itiao Mataiapo Andre Tapena who was visiting from
Rarotonga - to be given to the families of the missing fishermen on behalf of
the Aitutaki Rainforest Men’s Club to show their love, condolences and support
for them during their time of sadness and loss.
The missing fishermen were last seen on the night of
March 5 while out net fishing in Rutaki.
Police stood down the official search and have
referred the matter to the coroner.
On Saturday, a special farewell service was held at
Rutaki Beach for Tekao Enua Tipene.